Module Identifier ED10510  
Academic Year 2000/2001  
Co-ordinator Dr Daniel Chandler  
Semester Semester 2  
Co-Requisite Prospective Honours students select three modules chosen from: ED10210, ED10310, ED10410, ED10610. No co-requisites for other students.  
Course delivery Lecture   10 Hours  
  Tutorial   Fortnightly  
Assessment Exam   2 Hours   75%  
  Continuous assessment   Assignment of 2, 000 words   25%  
Further details  

Brief description
The main focus of this module is on how all experience is mediated rather than on the mass media as such (though perceptive media students will note its relevance). Much of the first part of the module will seem more like a 'visual literacy' course. The module introduces some key issues in media theory (partly as a broad grounding for those students who will later take the Part Two Learning from Television and Media Education options in the Education department). Whilst the module is intended to be of general interest to all first-year students, it should be of particular interest to students who are also studying film and television studies, visual art, literature (English and other), education, information and library studies, computer science and history. It should also appeal to students who are interested in psychological and/or linguistic themes. If you are interested in how we interpret (and difer in interpreting) what we see, hear and read in the world and in 'texts' (whatever the medium), then this module is relevant to your concerns.

We explore two major themes. The first of these concerns the active way in which human beings make sense of what they see around them, of what they read, and of what they watch on television. Most people assume that visual perception, reading and watching TV involve relatively 'passive' processes of assimilation by the 'receiver'. Our study of visual illusions and of the openness of texts and TV programmes to interpretation will challenge the kind of assumptions underlying misleading notions such as 'delivering the curriculum'. We will explore some of the processes of mediation involved when viewers and readers construct 'reality', 'the world', 'meaning' and 'information'.

The second main theme of this module concerns broad theories about the influence of communications tools and media (such as writing, print, television and computers) on their users. The widespread stance of 'technological determinism' sees changes in communications technologies and media as having profound consequences for the individual and for society. This viewpoint is deconstructed and illustrated with a critical study of the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, who coined the well-known aphorism, 'the medium is the message'. This theme raises the question: to what extent are we shaped by our use of what we typically think of as 'neutral' tools and media? Formal education still privileges the technologies of writing and print, but everyday learning involves a far broader range of media. How do we use communications media, and what do we learn from our use of them?

Aims of the module

The lectures are based on the following:

Introduction; models of communication; notions of 'reality'
Visual Perception 1: Searching for Patterns
Visual Perception 2: The Third Dimension
Visual Perception 3: Cultural and Environmental Factors
Visual Perception 4: Individual Differences, Purposes and Needs
Visual Perception 5: Context and Expectations; Categorization and Selectivity
Visual Perception 6: Gestalt Principles of Visual Organization
Active Reader (1)
Active Reader (2)
Technological Determinism
Marshall McLuhan

The tutorials provide opportunities to investigate and discuss themes from the lectures.

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing this module should be:

Reading Lists
** Recommended Text
Anderson, James A. & Timothy P. Meyer. (1988) Mediated Communication. Newbury Park, CA: Sage
Carey, James W. (1989) Communication as Culture. Boston, MA: Unwin Hyman
Crowley, David & Paul Heyer. (1995) Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society. 2nd. White Plains, NY: Longman
DeFleur, Melvin L. & Sandra Ball-Rokeach. (1989) Theories of Mass Communication. 5th. White Plains, NY: Longman
Gregory, Richard L. (1990) Eye and Brain: The Psychology of Seeing. Oxford: Oxford University Press
McQuail, Denis. (1990) Mass Communication Theory. 2nd. London: Sage
Williams, Raymond. (1981) Contact: Human Communication and its History.. London: Thames & Hudson
Winner, Langdon. (1997) Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-Of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought.. Cambridge, MA: MIT
O'Sullivan, Tim, John Hartley, Danny Saunders & John Fiske. (1994) Key Concepts in Communication and Cultural Studies. 2nd. London: Routledge
Liska, Jo & Gary Cronkhite. (1995) An Ecological Perspective on Human Communication Theory.. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace
Fiske, John. (1990) Introduction to Communication Studies. London: Routledge
** Supplementary Text
Barnouw, Erik. (1989) International Encyclopaedia of Communications.. New York: OUP/University of Pennsylvania Press
Watson, James & Anne Hill. (1989) Dictionary of Communication and Media Studies.. London: Arnold
Inglis, Fred. (1990) Media Theory: An Introduction. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
McQuail, Denis. (1990) Mass Communication Theory: An Introduction. London: Sage